Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Green and Red Project

Something exciting is happening in Glen Rock, New Jersey! Teenagers have emerged from under bags of potato chips and tangles of gaming cords. TV-glazed eyes have regained their sparkle and mechanical voices have broken free from drone. Liberated, these kids frolic down the streets of their town-- clad with hammers, sanding machines, and paint brushes-- to David Bowie's "Dancing in the Streets." So happy are they to be creating functional art in the summer sun!

Susanne Rabens, of R=U Properties, LLC, has built a corps of teenagers to competitively improve residential properties in Glen Rock by making them more environmentally-friendly and by building the furniture and designing the landscaping. A magical thing has taken place as students let their creative juices flow, different generations from the community interact, and people work toward a common goal. While I poked fun at the stereotypical teenager above, the dear friend, M., who told me about this idea is more like one of my heroes from the Winking Circle than anyone else. I am excited to follow the progress of these students and their homes-- and to share the perspective below:

"The first time I met Susanne Rabens was at Glen Rock's local bagel shop where I am an employee. She was rushing about searching for teenagers to get involved in the Green and Red Project. At the time I thought nothing of it, just some eccentric woman running up and down the streets of Glen Rock spouting some kind of nonsense.

Many months have passed since that day and it turns out that none of her talk was nonsense. The Green and Red Project has blossomed from the small bud of 11 Glen Rock teens acting as board members to a small army of about 55 oily and hormonal students from Glen Rock High School. I enlisted as well and have so far worked on a variety of projects, from tearing up floorboards and knocking down walls to attempting to make candles out of old light bulbs and shelves out of books.

The amazing amounts of creativity I've seen on the project are mind-blowing. The artistry of many employees is to be admired by all. Many a boring piece of furniture has passed through these young hands and been transformed into an explosion of color and helter-skelter design. This is extremely unique furniture. A coffee table that somehow reminds me of Finland, and occasionally Sweden or the dresser that makes me crave Skittles with its bright and flavorful colors. You won't be finding anything like this at Pier 1.

The community this project has formed is also another example of the outstanding qualities of the project. Truthfully, it doesn't even feel like work anymore, it's more like living in some bohemian commune and going to improve on it every day."

- Macauley Davis

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